19 Uses for Empty Cereal Boxes


When I was a kid, I loved going to the supermarket with my mom. My favorite aisle? Cereal!

All those colors and flavors and prizes inside — it was hard to pick just one box. Of course, while I was eating the cereal, I didn’t care about the box at all (except to play the games on the back).

My, how times have changed. I still eat cereal from time to time (my favorite is Fruity Pebbles), but instead of disregarding and discarding the box, I repurpose it.

Think you can’t do anything with an empty cereal box? Think again. Here are 19 ways you can satisfy your craving for the sweet stuff while also saving money and the environment. (See also: 22 Ways to Reuse Paper)

1. Notepads

You’ll need a few more supplies to make a notepad out of a cereal box — like Modge Podge, binder clips, and an X-ACTO knife — but when you’re finished you’ll have one-of-a-kind pads that your school- or office-mates will envy. Check out instructions to make cereal box notepads at Infarrantly Creative. Very cool, indeed. If you want cereal-box notebooks to match, you can learn how to make those in a few easy steps too.

2. Gift Boxes

No, you’re not just stuffing a gift into a cereal box and handing it over as is — don’t be lazy. Rather, turn the cereal box inside out and decorate the unprinted side however you want — with paper, ribbons, bows, buttons, or whatever you can think of, really. The recipient will appreciate the thought that went into your handmade masterpiece. Plus, they can re-gift using it.

3. Gift Tags

Cut out whatever shape you want from a cereal box (you can trace a cookie cutter for fun shapes), punch a hole at the top, and address the tag to the recipient. Tie it to the gift with ribbon or string. Easy as that.


Use an X-ACTO knife to cut two rectangular shapes from the same cereal box. Glue them together on the unprinted side. Done in under two minutes.

5. Magazine Holder

Cereal boxes are the perfect size to store your magazines — and you don’t have to do much to the box beside cut it diagonally. Follow these easy instructions on how to make a cereal box magazine holder. You can leave the holder as is for a quirky bit of nostalgia, or you can spray paint it and redecorate to match your current décor.

6. Placemats

Use the entire front or back of a large cereal box and spray paint it white. Once it’s dry, let your kids decorate it themselves using markers. When they’re finished, have their personalized placemats laminated at your local Staples or FedEx store. They’ll love eating their meals off of something they made.

7. Masks

Cereal boxes are great for making masks for kids to decorate, because the cardboard is rather thin and pliable. Parents should cut out the shape since it could be difficult for small hands, but when they’re ready, kids can decorate them with crayons, markers, tissue paper, ribbons, and lots of other small items you keep in the craft box.

8. Shipping Boxes

Cereal boxes as shipping containers are especially useful if you sell stuff on eBay or Amazon. Turn the box inside out and glue the seams back together. Put your item inside (along with stuffing if there’s room for the item move around), and address and stamp it.

9. Shipping Envelopes

These require a little more work than cereal-box shipping containers, but they're easily accomplished by laying the entire cereal box flat and cutting a large enough piece to cover the enter document along with flaps. Check out this tutorial for cereal-box shipping envelopes at New Green Mama.

10. Business Cards

OK, so these aren’t for everybody, but if you have a creative profession, like art, cereal box business cards are a cool way to let people know how you operate. You could also use these cards to write down important numbers and information and have them laminated to keep in your wallet.

11. Luggage Tags

This is the same concept as the gift tags, expect you’ll put your personal information on the unprinted side (paint it white beforehand to make it more visible if you want). To make sure they last, have them laminated. I promise, everyone will ask where you bought them.

12. Postcards

Say hello to a friend by cutting out a 4" x 6" piece of cereal box then writing, addressing, and stamping the unprinted side. Pop it in the mail to send a nice surprise.

13. Painter's Palette

If you or your kids like to paint, use a cereal box to put out the colors.

14. Craft Tray

Cut a cereal box down the middle from top to bottom, and reinforce the flaps with glue. You’ve got an instant tray to hold craft projects that you’re working on.

15. Flash Cards

Don’t buy expensive flash cards from the store. Cut out cards from cereal boxes.

16. Binder Separators

Want to separate sections in a binder? Just cut out a portion of a cereal box that’s half an inch wider than your loose-leaf paper and punch holes on the left side using a three-hole punch. Stick them in your binder to easily identify which section is which.

17. In/Out Paper Organizers

Employ the same method as the craft tray above, but this time use both sides of the cut box. Put finished papers in one half and to-do items in the other.

18. Scratch Paper

Stop wasting perfectly good (and expensive) printer paper. Open up your empty cereal boxes to use as scratch paper for notes and doodles.

19. Disposable Cutting Board

Ah, never thought of this one, did you? The cardboard is food safe — there was cereal in the box, after all — so you can use it as a cutting board if your others are in use or you just don’t feel like washing them when you’re done cooking.

Have even more uses for empty cereal boxes? Also, what’s your favorite kind of cereal? Let me know in the comments below.

Like this article? Pin it!

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Meg Favreau's picture

I love that cutting board idea -- seems like that could be really useful for picnics or potlucks -- times when you don't want to carry around and dirty a normal cutting board.

Guest's picture

Is it really food safe? The cereal itself is in a bag separate for the cardboard.

However... I guess in a pinch it would be no big deal.

Guest's picture

Save lots of boxes, cereal and otherwise, and cover them in contact paper (wrap like a present) then give them to the kids to build towers, castles, forts, etc.

Guest's picture

Those are some really clever ideas.

Guest's picture

Thanks so much for adding our Cereal Box Notebooks to your fun collection. We really appreciate it!

Guest's picture

My father made working pendulum clocks out of cereal boxes and still has one hung on the wall in his hobby-room.

Guest's picture

I love these ideas. I actually had to empty boxes in the trash. I got them out. Now rasin brand and apples jacks help organize the papers on my desk.

Guest's picture

Love the idea of covering the spiral notebook, but saw a much simpler option elsewhere. simply cut the cereal box front and back to just cover the spiral's existing cover and glue it on, no messing with the wire :)

Guest's picture

I love these ideas! So creative!

Guest's picture

I've used cereal boxes for quilt patterns for hand quilting. I trace a small section at a time when the quilt is on a floor frame.

Guest's picture

I have used them as a HOT PAD under my hot glue gun...inside t-shirts as we are decorating them with markers and cut out circles with an inner circle to make the old fashion POM POMS out of yarn, for creative gift boxes. Wrap the cereal box with present inside ( of course) with brown craft paper and then add pom poms on a length of yarn..very nostalgic.

Guest's picture

I use cereal boxes as the back for my Artist Trading cards. They are thick and very sturdy. I can decorate them anyway I like.

I also use them to dividers for my coupon box. I just cut the size I need with the tab and pop it in to the coupon box. They are quite sturdy and last a long time

Guest's picture

I love these ideas! I will have to try these. I'm decorating my new apt and these ideas are perfect for organizing. Also, try this http://thegluegungirl.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-make-3d-cardboard-star.... They go great in my living room!

Max Wong's picture
Max Wong

When I travel to foreign countries I recycle any packaging with text on it into post cards or wrapping paper for gifts to bring people back home. People love it.